Author Shane Stay, talks ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Football World Cup’.
We welcome author, Shane Stay, as we celebrate release of his ‘The World Cup 2022 Book’ – ahead of official kick-off in Qatar in November.
It’s so lovely to have you join us, Shane!
Q So tell us a little more about the book. It’s billed as everything you need to know – that sounds like an essential bit of kit for fans of any of the teams?
A I’m excited about this title, THE World Cup 2022 Book, for sure. This one is feeling very special. It includes superstars, key players, teams, coaches, strategies, history of past World Cups, stadiums, and more. For instance, as a bonus, I include an “All-Star Team” for this 2022 World Cup and an all-time “All-Star Team” of previous World Cup champions. (The latter was not easy to choose.) Overall, the book has something for everybody.
You’ve been topping charts on Amazon
Q The book is being received really well isn’t it? You’ve been topping charts on Amazon?
A It’s been #1 and #2 at Amazon in new release categories. I’m really pleased. A great deal of research went into a gazillion players (their background, style of play, etc.), so I – and Meyer & Meyer as it’s a team effort – are very glad it’s doing well. Everything is up to date, to the last minute of publication so readers know the information is World Cup ready.
Everything is up to date, to the last minute of publication so readers know the information is World Cup ready.
Q What was the most fascinating fact you unearthed when researching the book?
A There’s a few. First, there’s a ton of fascinating history regarding ancient Qatar from BC times to modern day. Did you know their history of pirates and treachery on the high seas?Likely not! All that kind of non-soccer, but still interesting and good to know stuff about the host-nation gets included as side information or in the QR code section. It’s bonus stuff – but too good not to include.
I’ve one for you – how about that the United States holds the record for largest total attendance and largest average attendance?
And then – I guess it’s more of a reminder – that Neymar hasn’t won the Ballon d’Or yet. I think Neymar is arguably the best player in the world, especially given that Messi and Ronaldo have slowed down a bit in recent years. Whatever your opinion of him, he’s a great talent that should win that award, at least once. Others that are in that category, of course, are Salah, Eden Hazard, Griezmann, Mbappe, Virgil van Dijk, and a few others.
…the United States holds the record for largest total attendance …
Q You’ve authored a number of books for us on football and soccer sporting events – we are guessing this is something of a passion for you. How much of a passion?
A Very much so. From my first book Why American Soccer Isn’t There Yet to this recent title, THE World Cup 2022 Book, there have been some fun ones. As a player, I’ve been fortunate to play in Brazil and the Netherlands as a youth and I saw first hand the international passion of the sport. As an American, we of course lead the world in Olympic medals (ahem), and are very passionate about sports, not to mention soccer. I had good coaches growing up, for sure, and perhaps I inadvertently acquired some finer points of the game during my time in Brazil and the Netherlands. One such motif I focus on would be, as I call it, the “two-man game” which essentially is passing the ball back to the player that just passed to you; when done well, when this occurs at a high frequency, possession can be unstoppable. Spain does this so well, like a factory. England, in recent years under the leadership of Coach Southgate, is doing this very well. So part of my passion for the game is seeing who plays the game the “right way.” This “right way” is, of course, debatable, but I like to think that Spain, the current English team, Germany, and a few others are leaders in this regard.
Do fans want to see “free-flowing soccer” like that of Brazil in 1970? Of course. But to dominate the game like Spain (champs of the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro 2012), you need to master possession before jumping into free-flowing soccer. In my opinion, that’s the game today (that is, close attention to possession). There are plenty of teams, even at the World Cup level, that don’t get this idea of possession. So, I very much enjoy analysing the teams that understand this concept and those that don’t. In their own way, those that don’t get it are just as endearing. For those that do, it makes the game very fun to watch.
England in recent years under the leadership of Coach Southgate, is doing this very well
Q What age were you when you first started playing football?
A I was probably five. It was at a day-care place called “Land of Oz” or something to that effect. A foreign student, perhaps from Palestine, I don’t remember exactly, had us play soccer with a basketball during recess. He was a nice guy, maybe around 30 and couldn’t wait to get us playing soccer. From there I played with a number of teams, including Busch Soccer Club in St. Louis, Missouri, once considered the best club in North America. With Busch, I won a Missouri club state championship. Around this time, when I was 14, I lived and played in Brazil for a time. With a Metro East team (from St. Louis), as co-captain I won a Holland Cup championship; this team was coached by Ed Gettemeier, who played professionally in the original NASL and MISL. In high school, I was part of two Illinois state championships with Collinsville High School. Eventually I played with the St. Louis Illusion. During all that time, I was fortunate to play with and against some very talented players.
Q You played professional soccer?
A Yes, for the St. Louis Illusion. Generally speaking, soccer is extremely competitive in St. Louis, at every level. In the US, St. Louis has been the leader of soccer since the late 1800s. Other areas have been strong as well, such as New Jersey, Chicago, and Los Angeles. But St. Louis has always been the headquarters. So to play for the Illusion, for St. Louis, was an honor.
My recent book, This is Our CITY: The St. Louis City SC and the Revival of America’s First Soccer Capital, explores the fascinating history of St. Louis soccer going back over 100 years. Did you know that in 1958, the US Soccer Federation called upon Kutis (a club team) to play as proxy for the USMNT? That actually happened. There were a couple guest players, but essentially the team was Kutis, from St. Louis. Not New York City, not Chicago, not Dallas – St. Louis. That’s pretty amazing. That’s how good St. Louis soccer was, and is. During research for the book, which took three years, I spoke to so many people, including Pat McBride, a St. Louis native and former standout with the USMNT.
Q You are born and bred in Illinois, USA. A question we have to ask – why is it called soccer in the US? 🙂
A Great question. Interesting answer (I hope).
World Football Index published a piece by James Nalton on March 10, 2017, that points out: “The word ‘soccer’ originated in England, and was originally used to differentiate association football from its rugby cousin. Just as rugby football was shortened to ‘rugger’, the game of association football became known as ‘soccer’ thanks to a shortening of the word ‘association’.”
TIME published a story, by Billy Perrigo on July 11, 2018, that essentially says the same.
Growing up in Illinois, we heard something of this here and there. Most Americans probably have no clue the name originated in England. It just became soccer, and that’s that. It makes sense, as England invented the modern game and over the years America has insisted on differentiating itself from its parent nation.
Q Do you think England has a chance this year? We are talking the men’s team there – rather than the Lionesses who are doing us so proud. We note you’ve scored them a 9.7
A The Lionesses are doing very well. As for the men, there’s always a chance. I’m a huge England supporter as the team “can and should” win the World Cup every time around. Yet something rather peculiar seems to happen: Bryan Robson gets injured, Maradona’s “hand of God” and the “ball went over the line” (of course, in 2010). When England takes the field, no matter what year, there’s a certain electricity that I think everyone around the world feels. This, in large part, comes from the amazing fan base in England. In THE World Cup 2022 Book, the overall team rating is based on “10” being the highest, such as Brazil 1970 or Spain 2010. So 9.7 is extremely high. I think many fans of the Three Lions have been very critical of the program in the past 20-30 years. Perhaps some think 9.7 is too high. I think it’s accurate as this team is dynamite and very capable of winning the whole thing in Qatar.
England, of course, is carrying some baggage. As most know, England’s only World Cup title is from 1966. Part of England’s dilemma is that there are very high expectations. England is under immense pressure to bring home big results; every team around the world is under pressure but England is under “more” pressure; what happens is the team can tense up, at times. If a remedy can be supplied for this – that is, by Gareth Southgate who has done very well – then the sky is the limit for England. For my money, England is a favourite in Qatar 2022. With Kane, Sterling, Maguire, Walker, Foden and company, this is a primetime team, one to watch.
I’m a huge England supporter as the team ‘can and should’ win the World Cup every time around. Yet something rather peculiar seems to happen …
Q Who do you think the final will be between?
A Predictions are great, if you get it right: Brazil vs. England. However, I’m big on Argentina this time around, too. But let’s go: Brazil vs. England.
Aside from who might win, Brazil is one to watch, obviously, but also in this respect…in 1970, Brazil won the World Cup in exotic Mexico. Then, over 20 years later, Brazil won it again in 1994. That’s a 20-year wait. Long time. Skip to 2002, the last time Brazil won the World Cup in exotic South Korea and Japan. Now, 20 years later, Brazil is in exotic Qatar. There’s something about a 20-odd-year wait and exotic locations with Brazil. It seems to thrive under these conditions. Also, Neymar is in a “prime” of sorts at the age of 30. He might have a tournament or two left after this, but it’s more or less a now or never moment for him to lead at a prime age.
What’s more, I think England will eventually get back to the final, so why not now? For England, anything’s possible and it has a ton of talent.
Predictions are great, if you get it right: Brazil vs England. However, I’m big on Argentina this time around, too. But let’s go: Brazil vs. England.
Q And what’s the next project, Shane?
A I’ve enjoyed every book so far, especially but not only THE World Cup 2022 Book and This is Our CITY. Watch this space as they say for my next project. With Meyer & Meyer Sport it will be quality.